How to Authenticate Canadian Documents for Use in Costa Rica

In today’s world, authenticity is crucial to legal documents, certificates, and IDs. People need to ensure that these documents are genuine and not fraudulent. To do this, various methods are used to verify the authenticity of these documents. One such method is getting a certificate of authenticity issued by authorized entities to confirm the authenticity of a document.

If you’re a Canadian living in Costa Rica or planning to apply for residency or citizenship there, you must provide official documents from Canada. However, before using these documents in Costa Rica, they must be authenticated by the Costa Rican Embassy in Canada. Here’s what you need to know to authenticate Canadian documents for use in Costa Rica.

In this conversation, we will explore the frequently asked questions about certificates of authenticity, document attestation, and authentication in Canada. We will also discuss the importance of these certificates, the difference between authentication and verification, and how to create and verify the authenticity of a document or ID.


Step 1. Get Birth Certificate

First, your original Birth Certificate may work only if it’s a long-form Birth Certificate (with your parent’s names). Global Affairs only authenticates signatures of current officials (such as the presiding Registrar General who signed your birth certificate).

Ordering a birth certificate differs depending on the province where you were born. In my case, I was born in Québec, so it was a simple application through the Directeur de l’état civil. Be sure to order the long form with the names of the father and the mother on it!


Step 2. Get Criminal Record Check

Get a criminal record check from the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa. You can get another police certificate from a local RCMP detachment or police department. Still, it must be notarized before sending it to Global Affairs to authenticate the Canadian notary’s signature. You can save yourself the trouble and get the record check from RCMP HQ.

You can use an RCMP-accredited company to get your criminal record checked. I have used and recommended the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, which has offices throughout Canada. If you need help to make the trip to Canada, contact them anyway – they have ways of digitizing an ink fingerprint submission. Be sure to order the fingerprint-based criminal record check from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.


Step 3. Prepare the package for the Embassy of Costa Rica in Ottawa

Pay the consular fees ($40 USD per document – so, $80 USD for birth certificate and police record) to the Embassy of Costa Rica, Consular Services via a deposit to their Bank of Montreal bank account (see Legalization of Documents).

Could you include an addressed, pre-paid envelope for the Embassy to return your legalized documents? They prefer couriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL); you can handle it in Costa Rica.


Step 4. Send the entire package to Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa

Send the whole package to Global Affairs in Ottawa to authenticate documents from Canada. They will authenticate the relevant documents free of charge and deliver the package to the Embassy of Costa Rica in Ottawa.

Your package should contain the following:
– Authentication Request Form detailing which documents to authenticate (birth certificate and police certificate) and instructions to forward to the Embassy of Costa Rica.
– Birth certificate (original) and Criminal Record Check from RCMP HQ in Ottawa (original)
– Cover letter for the Embassy of Costa Rica explaining which documents to legalize.
– Receipt of deposit of $80 USD to the Embassy of Costa Rica.
– Pre-paid envelope to get the documents back.


Step 5. Legalize Documents in Costa Rica

Once your documents from Canada are in Costa Rica, you’ll need to legalize the signatures of the Embassy officials at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in downtown San José. CRIE will assist you in legalizing it for an additional fee.


Step 6. Translate to Spanish

Since documents from Canada are not in Spanish, you’ll need to have them translated. The translation needs to be complete and literal. It should be done in Costa Rica ONLY by an official translator. CRIE will help you with the translation as well.

CRIE can help you get your documents from Canada, especially with the parts in Costa Rica (authentication at Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores and the official translation) through their services. I highly recommend using them to avoid wasting time – a solid year, in my case.


Reasons we cannot authenticate your document

We cannot authenticate the following documents:

  • documents without an original signature or seal (for example, plain photocopies)
  • documents with unknown seals or signatures, we are unable to verify
  • religious documents (for example, baptismal certificates, religious marriage certificates, or other documents issued by a religious institution)
  • documents are of foreign origin (we can only authenticate Canadian documents)
  • documents issued by unrecognized educational institutions
  • glued documents
  • laminated documents
  • documents covered with any substance that would make it difficult to place a stamp on them

We can decline authentication and refer your case to the appropriate authority if

  • the content of your document is believed to be misleading
  • the document or the authentication process may be used for fraudulent, illegal, or misleading purposes
  • we have doubts about the integrity of the document or the notarial act or if we deem it to infringe upon our policies

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Authenticating Canadian documents can be complex, but following the steps outlined in this guide ensures that your documents are properly authenticated and ready for use. Remember to determine the document type, obtain a certified copy, have it notarized, authenticate it through Global Affairs Canada, and legalize it through the Embassy or Consulate of the country where it will be used.

We hope this guide has helped you with the information you need to authenticate your Canadian documents. If you have any more questions or need help with the authentication process, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.

-Written by Glenn Tellier (Founder of CRIE and Grupo Gap).

[email protected]


Frequently Asked Questions


How do I get a certificate of authenticity in Canada?

For a Canadian document to be authenticated, it must be an original document with an original signature and seal. You can consult a professional authentication service to obtain a certificate of authenticity.

How do I get documents attested in Canada?

You can get your documents attested by a notary public or a commissioner of oaths.

Submit an authentication request.
  1. Step 1: Verify your requirements. Contact the appropriate consulate or Embassy to verify their requirements. …
  2. Step 2: Check your eligibility. …
  3. Step 3: Find a notary public. …
  4. Step 4: Prepare your documents. …
  5. Step 5: Submit your service request.

How do you authenticate a document?

Since what is being legalized is the signature and stamp or seal of a public official, the first step for a private document is to have an individual’s name on the document notarized. Since a notary is an official in the public eye, their name and seal can be verified and made official.

Who will issue a certificate of authenticity?

You can consult a professional appraiser or authentication service to obtain a certificate of authenticity.

Do we need an apostille from Canada?

No, Canada is not a member of the Hague Apostille Convention, so you cannot obtain an apostille in Canada. Instead, you will need to follow the process for document authentication in Canada.

Why is Canada not part of the Apostille Convention?

Other countries recognize Canada’s document authentication process, so it has not joined the Hague Apostille Convention.

What is the Difference between authentication and apostille?

An apostille is the authentication of public documents utilized by countries that are signatories of the Hague Apostille Convention, Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents.

Canada is not a signatory of the Hague Apostille Convention and therefore does not meet its requirements.

Canada, at this time, will not issue an apostille. Instead, Canadians are required to provide a Certificate of Authentication.


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  • Penelope Smith
    Posted January 8, 2019 7:52 pm 0Likes

    This is some really good information about getting documents. I liked what you said about how in some cases you need to get a birth certificate issued in the past six months for things. That wasn’t something I was aware of when it comes to using birth certificates.

  • Jordan Lattimore
    Posted October 10, 2023 1:45 pm 0Likes

    Hi there, I am hoping you might be able to assist with a question I have about certifying documents. I am a Costa Rican resident, but am originally from Canada. I am going through the ‘homologacion’ process to get a Costa Rican drivers license. I currently have a vaild license from Alberta. I have translated the license into Spanish, and have an appointment at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in San Jose for them to certify my license. I suppose my question is, do I need to have my Alberta Drivers License first certified by Global Affairs Canada and the Costa Rica Embassy in Ottawa, before submitting it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Costa Rica?

    Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.

    Kind regards,

    Jordan Lattimore

    • Bastian
      Posted October 30, 2023 9:48 am 0Likes

      Hi Jordan, please send WhatsApp to +506 8373 2085

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